Last night we had another early primary, this time in New Hampshire. It went pretty much as the polls predicted. On the Republican side, Trump won, Kasich came in second and Rubio a surprisingly distant fifth. Sanders beat Clinton handily.
A few points:
It tells you a lot about the Democratic Party that Sanders walloped Clinton, beat her by twenty points. And yet Clinton actually won more delegates, according to CNN. The reason is that New Hampshire has eight “superdelegates” — party bigwigs who will vote with the establishment. In 2008, you may remember that the superdelegates became a big deal. For a while, it looked like Clinton would lose the primary vote but win the nomination due to the superdelegates. It will be interesting to see if that dynamic plays out again. I predict a rebellion at the convention if Clinton wins because she locked up the party establishment early. Sanders still trails nationally so I still expect Clinton to win outright. But the gap is closing, as you can tell by the increasingly desperate cries of the Clinton supporters (e.g., Steinem and Albright castigating young women for supporting Sanders).
If the GOP doesn’t get their act together, there’s a very good chance Trump will be the nominee and a very good chance Clinton will be the next President. Last night’s tally was a paradigm of everything going on right now. Trump only got a third of the vote. His negatives among GOP voters are actually very high. But the difference is that the faction supporting Trump are supporting Trump. The non-trump vote is divided among seven different candidates. So Trump walked away with the state and nine of its twelve delegates while getting less of the vote than Clinton did.
So who is the non-Trump candidate? Rubio was supposed to be surging. He finished fifth. Was it the gaffe at the debate? Everyone is claiming it was and I’m happy to eat some crow on that. But we tend to get too wedded to narratives in political season. Throughout this election cycle, Rubio has always been the candidate of tomorrow and tomorrow never seems to come. He may just not be that good a candidate, debate gaffe or no debate gaffe.
Kasich finished second but that’s because he bet everything on New Hampshire. He has minimal national presence and will almost certainly be finished by Super Tuesday.
It’s time for Fiorina to drop out. She’s going nowhere. It’s also time for Christie to drop out. I like the big guy and think he’d be a formidable national candidate, potentially swiping blue states from the Democrats. But New Hampshire was supposed to be his big breakthrough and it wasn’t. I also think it’s time for Carson to drop out. Carson is a nice man but he’s not happening.
That would leave us with a field of Trump, Kasich, Cruz, Bush and Rubio. It would free up 15% of the vote and give a Trump alternative a real chance to emerge. Will the GOP man up? Will the non-candidates drop out? On such decisions will the fate of the 2016 election turn.